In Part 1 of Tasting Coffee we didn't talk about taste we talked about smell. In Part 2 we finally taste.
Finally, enough with the nose, move on to the main event, tasting coffee. To a large degree, tasting coffee is an assessment of the extent to which the coffee delivers on fragrance and aroma. If the coffee smells like grapefruit, does it taste like grapefruit or did is fade into orange peel? Does the scent of chocolate become the taste of vanilla in the cup? What about those almonds you smelled? More like cashews now? Beyond thinking about how the scents you experienced translate into taste (if they do at all) you can consider sweetness, sourness, acidity, and savory, for starters. Honey, lemonade, red wine, steak? Many people who taste coffee for a paycheck might balk at these stand-ins but when youre learning to talk about what you taste they can be helpful.
These descriptors, and hundreds of synonyms, along with smells that carried over into taste, begin to give you language for talking about your coffee. You decide that you taste sweetness. Is it a sugary sweetness or a savory sweetness, like chocolate, and is it milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Are you in a flower garden or a redwood forest? Those who evaluate coffee will expand on these broad categories when tasting coffee until and have a great many detailed descriptors to choose from. Fruity becomes citrus or tree fruits or tropical fruit and then there are choices among those. Coffee cuppers slurp coffee off of a spoon in order to aerate and spread the coffee over their tongue. You can do the same as your coffee cools but you should be a little rude about it, slurping vigorously so the coffee hits as many sections of your tongue at once as possible. From here, whether your slurping or sipping politely, you can continue to talk about the finish, or aftertaste. It may be that something you have not detected since the fragrance of the dry grounds returns during the finish. Several flavors may reveal themselves as you exhale after swallowing that you didn't quite catch while the coffee was in your mouth. You can also consider the body or mouthfeel of the coffee, which is the weight and feel of the beverage on your tongue, the tactile experience of drinking the coffee. This can refer to the sensation of thickness and also viscosity, as well as the fiber content.
Brewing coffee at home provides the greatest opportunity for tasting coffee and evaluating what you taste, but even when you buy coffee at a coffeehouse, take a moment to smell the coffee before you drink it and then think about how the aroma does or doesnt continue into taste. Of course, you can always just relax and enjoy the coffee and leave it to others to sum the parts.